Paddling North: Opening Windows, Closing Doors

After an 18 hour blow, the wind has finally calmed. This is looking out from Fort Resolution towards Mission Island from where we came today when the winds began to drop.

We landed near the Treaty Signing Century Celebration Arbor and began to get our bearings in Fort Resolution. We found drinking water, the Northern store, and had many conversations. Folks here are very friendly and eager to hear about our time out on the land and rivers.

We got stocked up and spent the afternoon chatting with folks and getting ready for our next portage/mid trip food supply. We hear we have a squirrel to thank for being down a box of food. It liked M & M’s.

With high winds predicted for much of the next week, we’ve decided to be progressed along our route to Fort Providence so we can spent more time paddling North than East, and more time meeting and chatting with Northerners than sitting on the beach. Too much spent winded-off the water on the lake would likely mean not getting as far on the Mackenzie as we’d hoped. So a door is closing to open a window for other experiences because we have a finite ending date for the expedition since I’m presenting a paper in Wales at the end of August.

We’ve paddled 1341 kilometres to get here in 41 days and we have a bunch more to go so stay tuned and we’ll catch ya from the Mackenzie real soon!

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Check-in/OK message from SPOT TA

Device Name: TA
Latitude: 61.16741
Longitude: -113.68103
GPS location Date/Time: 06/27/2018 01:37:25 NDT

Message: TA & Marian are paddling to the Arctic Ocean. Check the map to see where they are paddling & exploring today!

Click the link below to see where I am located.
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Paddling North: Some Days are Diamonds, Other Days are Windy

Two updates today… the joy of Internet connectivity. That’s Marian above constructing a tripod so we could try the Waterlily Turbine in windier conditions, the same conditions that kept us on the beach. On the beach, perched a three kilometre paddle from Fort Resolution, deciding to explore Mission Island rather than move camp a mere three kilometres and a less ideal camp spot. If the wind abates (as predicted), we will make a short stop for supplies in Fort Resolution and then aim to make the move to the Little Buffalo River. Some fishers promised us a feed of fish when we get there.

Our first wind day, three days ago was awesome. We needed a rest day and the wind invited us to accept one. This one, however, not so much. First, it came too soon after the last one. Second, I was eager to keep moving. Third, I wasn’t yet psyched to subject my will to the whim of the wind. But of course, none of those matter really. The truth is it is very windy and wavy and there is nothing to do but wait it out.

It will be a noisy night with the tent rattling and shaking in the wind but we have it well guyed out. It will be a little being a drumstick in a Shake and Bake bag. Reminds me of many a night on the side of a mountain in similar but much colder conditions. My team and I were once windbound for five days at Camp One on Aconcagua.

“Some days are diamonds, some days are stone,” sang John Denver. He summed up expedition life (and life in general) well. This expedition has been almost all diamond with some butterflies thrown in…good weather, good company, good paddling, good views…I guess it’s time for a bit of stone…a day where the hordes of houseflies crap on your tent, a day where you burn dinner, a day where you wanted birthday treats and they are across the water, a day where patience was frayed across a warp of frustration, a day where the sky turned grey and the wind blew stirring energies of home and comfort. A day of doldrums amid gusts, of inertia amid energy, of quiet amid noise.

Amid the wind blues, there was learning of this place and of the people who lived here. I thoroughly enjoyed walking through a camp built for a gathering last year and reading storyboards of elders’ memories of life here. That will be my take home memory from today…the rest will be carried away by the wind.

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Paddling North: 1338 and Counting

After 1338 kilometres and 39 days, we reached Great Slave Lake last night. It greeted us with some interesting wind and water conditions but then eased allowing us to take some pictures and enjoy a following “sea” almost to Fort Resolution.

The Slave River was a great phase and our transition through Fort Smith was quick and smooth thanks to Michel and Collette. We learned to live sandbar camping as an escape from the bugs. Being out on the middle of the river was also great for both morning and evening light.

We are both doing well and getting stronger and more sun kissed by the day. Yesterday was my birthday and we woke to a Newfoundland mauzy day and finished it with a beautiful mercury lake dazzled by a sinking sun.

Now we are looking to restock in Fort Resolution and shift to sea kayak thinking as we are now paddling an inland sea, Great Slave Lake, to Hay River and beyond. The lake is very shallow and winds can whip the surface into a frenzy so we must be prepared to sit out a few wind days.

The bugs are very hungry in the woods but not to bad out in the breeze. We wear our headnets and bug jackets in the morning and evening but the midday sun keeps them at bay midday (unless you go into the woods).

The Slave River gave opportunities for paddling both big river and intimate side channels. We’ve seen three wolves, three bears, two moose, and a gabillion beavers. We are surrounded by birds and they sing to us.

Off to go shopping!

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Check-in/OK message from SPOT TA

Device Name: TA
Latitude: 61.16678
Longitude: -113.73476
GPS location Date/Time: 06/25/2018 02:19:05 NDT

Message: TA & Marian are paddling to the Arctic Ocean. Check the map to see where they are paddling & exploring today!

Click the link below to see where I am located.
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Check-in/OK message from SPOT TA

Device Name: TA
Latitude: 61.22805
Longitude: -113.25368
GPS location Date/Time: 06/24/2018 01:41:35 NDT

Message: TA & Marian are paddling to the Arctic Ocean. Check the map to see where they are paddling & exploring today!

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Check-in/OK message from SPOT TA

Device Name: TA
Latitude: 60.99003
Longitude: -113.19838
GPS location Date/Time: 06/22/2018 01:03:24 NDT

Message: TA & Marian are paddling to the Arctic Ocean. Check the map to see where they are paddling & exploring today!

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Check-in/OK message from SPOT TA

Device Name: TA
Latitude: 60.81854
Longitude: -112.94977
GPS location Date/Time: 06/21/2018 00:59:05 NDT

Message: TA & Marian are paddling to the Arctic Ocean. Check the map to see where they are paddling & exploring today!

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Check-in/OK message from SPOT TA

Device Name: TA
Latitude: 60.54593
Longitude: -112.60341
GPS location Date/Time: 06/20/2018 00:53:25 NDT

Message: TA & Marian are paddling to the Arctic Ocean. Check the map to see where they are paddling & exploring today!

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Check-in/OK message from SPOT TA

Device Name: TA
Latitude: 60.37426
Longitude: -112.60858
GPS location Date/Time: 06/19/2018 01:20:57 NDT

Message: TA & Marian are paddling to the Arctic Ocean. Check the map to see where they are paddling & exploring today!

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Check-in/OK message from SPOT TA

Device Name: TA
Latitude: 60.37425
Longitude: -112.60858
GPS location Date/Time: 06/19/2018 00:59:37 NDT

Message: TA & Marian are paddling to the Arctic Ocean. Check the map to see where they are paddling & exploring today!

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Device Name: TA
Latitude: 60.13078
Longitude: -112.23656
GPS location Date/Time: 06/18/2018 00:24:29 NDT

Message: TA & Marian are paddling to the Arctic Ocean. Check the map to see where they are paddling & exploring today!

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Check-in/OK message from SPOT TA

Device Name: TA
Latitude: 60.02218
Longitude: -111.91763
GPS location Date/Time: 06/17/2018 03:15:28 NDT

Message: TA & Marian are paddling to the Arctic Ocean. Check the map to see where they are paddling & exploring today!

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Check-in/OK message from SPOT TA

Device Name: TA
Latitude: 59.38901
Longitude: -111.44902
GPS location Date/Time: 06/16/2018 00:17:27 NDT

Message: TA & Marian are paddling to the Arctic Ocean. Check the map to see where they are paddling & exploring today!

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Check-in/OK message from SPOT TA

Device Name: TA
Latitude: 59.08296
Longitude: -111.40591
GPS location Date/Time: 06/15/2018 00:03:20 NDT

Message: TA & Marian are paddling to the Arctic Ocean. Check the map to see where they are paddling & exploring today!

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Check-in/OK message from SPOT TA

Device Name: TA
Latitude: 58.92554
Longitude: -111.17606
GPS location Date/Time: 06/13/2018 21:15:03 NDT

Message: TA & Marian are paddling to the Arctic Ocean. Check the map to see where they are paddling & exploring today!

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Paddling North: Heading Out Again Tomorrow

Turns out, we weren’t in a big hurry to head out from Fort Chipewyan. We’ve so enjoyed our stay that it seemed a shame to rush off (and a bit more test never goes astray).

Yesterday we visited the Wood Buffalo National Park Office and visitor’s Centre. We also spent some time talking about expedition with Lisa’s Grade Seven class. They asked some great questions. Last night, we attended the Athabasca Delta School awards ceremony and help celebrate the students’ achievements.

Last night the light over Lake Athabasca was delicious and we spent some time drinking it in. The golden strip is the sun highlighting the grass/reeds on the far side of the lake.

We going to start paddling North again tomorrow on the Rivière Des Rochers which will lead us to the intersection with the Peace River and the two rivers become the Slave River which we will take to the Great Slave Lake. Phase Four of Paddling North will be Fort Chip to Fort Smith…

Catch you from the river…not sure how much, if any Internet coverage there will along the river for sharing photos but we’ll do an audio update and Spot update daily as usual.

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Paddling North: Fort Chip

We woke, having not had any interactions with the bear whose prints we found on the Winter road, to a grey day. With a weather report of increasing wind, we packed quickly and headed out. The crossing took about an hour and when we looked out of the bay to the larger part of Lake Athabasca, it looked like the ocean and Fort Chipewyan, looked like many Newfoundland and Labrador outports we’ve paddled into.

We were greeted at the Big Dock by Lisa and the barge we met the other day. We let the barge go in first 🙂

We’ve spent the day catching up with Lisa and Ben, both HKR grads, touring town, and doing town tasks. It’s been good to have a rest for our arms after five good hard days of paddling and after closing Phase Three. Phase Four will see us headed for Fort Smith via Fort Fitzgerald.

Lisa met us with a truck and we moved our gear to her house. A different kind of loading and I rode in back to make sure the boat was okay. I felt like I was in a parade. Laundry. Check. Clean the spice kit. Check. Charge electronics. Check. Prep maps. Check. Sleep deep and well tonight. Hope so!

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Check-in/OK message from SPOT TA

Device Name: TA
Latitude: 58.71256
Longitude: -111.15121
GPS location Date/Time: 06/11/2018 00:30:00 NDT

Message: TA & Marian are paddling to the Arctic Ocean. Check the map to see where they are paddling & exploring today!

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Paddling North: 4 Kilometres Short and Playing It Safe

We are hunkered down in our tent. The winds are sailing round and the shaking tent is making our prayer flags sway. We are across the way from Fort Chipewyan, a wee bit broken hearted, after a huge paddling day trying to get there. We are 4 kilometres shy and camped on the winter road. The sky above us has tumbled some and is a sickening shade of gray but so far, no big strikes. It will be fine with us, the swirling winds have already cemented our decision but it was still hard to stop so close. The risk benefit analysis had too much on the potential loss side if a doozy storm kicked up. So, we are dry, have our best campsite in days (no sand, no bugs, no mud, and cell coverage) :-).

We had a wicked cool lunch spot today. The picture doesn’t do it justice. The end of the log was floating and I got to climb out of the canoe, with lunch in hand, up the tree. It was the only spot we could find as we paddled out Maeawi Creek to Mawawi Lake. As we are in the Athabasca River Delta, things are ever changing and maps just can’t keep up. Fortunately, we had satellite imagery to assist us because the map showed the creek ending at the lake’s edge when in reality, the channel reached out 5 km into the lake. It turned out to be very handy that it did as the wind was kicking up a bit and the extended version of the creek cut the open crossing down considerably.

On the pic above, you can see the location of our lunch log. Pretty cool, we had lunch “in the middle” of the lake. It was a big day…we paddled about 41 km with 20 of them being against the wind and 9 of them being against wind and current. We expected the trip to Fort Chip (live the rhyme) to take 8 days so you can imagine how pleased we are to have almost reached it on day five. We were able to cut off some distance by using the Mawawi option rather than the Embarras or Fletcher Channels.

This was the camp where we perfected our big house which was excellent timing since yesterday’s camp had a fair share of mosquitoes and I was able to cook dinner and breakfast with only a few mosquito guests. The only thing we haven’t solved is how to do our business with company. That’s a challenge!

The birds are singing now-not sure if it is post storm or pre storm songs. The bird song today as we paddled was so amazing. The winds are still gusty so I don’t think we are quite done but I’ll close for now and go watch the weather.

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Check-in/OK message from SPOT TA

Device Name: TA
Latitude: 58.68661
Longitude: -111.20157
GPS location Date/Time: 06/09/2018 23:34:26 NDT

Message: TA & Marian are paddling to the Arctic Ocean. Check the map to see where they are paddling & exploring today!

Click the link below to see where I am located.
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Check-in/OK message from SPOT TA

Device Name: TA
Latitude: 58.48006
Longitude: -111.48033
GPS location Date/Time: 06/09/2018 00:11:49 NDT

Message: TA & Marian are paddling to the Arctic Ocean. Check the map to see where they are paddling & exploring today!

Click the link below to see where I am located.
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Check-in/OK message from SPOT TA

Device Name: TA
Latitude: 58.22425
Longitude: -111.43997
GPS location Date/Time: 06/07/2018 21:00:30 NDT

Message: TA & Marian are paddling to the Arctic Ocean. Check the map to see where they are paddling & exploring today!

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Paddling North: Cobble Barge Camp Day 21

What an evening we are having. The light, as you can see above, is stunning. We arrived at camp, which we are calling “Cobble Barge Camp” just in time to unload the boat, set up the tent, and set up the tarp before a rumbling thunder squall romped through complete with downpour. I was cooking dinner while Marian set up the inside fixings of the tent.

After a yummy dinner of miso soup, fried cabbage and falafel with sweet chilli sauce, we celebrated the 700 km Mark with Aztec Hot Chocolate and a few squares of dark chocolate. We were hungry. We’d paddled 54 km today. I realized we are averaging a marathon a day of paddling. 42 km day in and day out. We are on track and meeting our goal each day thus far.

Tonight, Marian found a lump of oil sands. In a moment of experimentation, she put in our fire. It steamed. It smoked a bit and then it began to bubble. I poked it out of the fire and pretended to be a road builder and use a big rock to flatten it onto another rock. I just paved a mini highway!

I wish you could see and hear the 50 geese floating by. They are honking and grunting and singing as they go by. It was an amazing day watching geese. We must have seen at least 1000 fly by in giant flying V’s of 50 to 100 birds. We could hear them flying up and we would stop paddling and just watch them fly. You could see them change leaders and adjust the V. It was breathtaking.

We have our paddled most human generated sound save for a few powerboats that passed us. We thought another one was passing by out of sight when all of a sudden, a barge came around the corner and into our channel. We paddled quickly out of harm’s way and got set for the wake, it was substantial- the largest rapid we’ve run lately.

Another fab day on the river, our three week anniversary on the trip and we passed the 700 km mark. A good day all around. The bugs have discovered me so I must go in the tent. Good night.

PS Amazed to have a bit of coverage to send this.

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